The Missile's Picks for Spiel and Dice Tower Awards
Ian Kissell
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The Dice Tower Awards are my favorite awards. They always produce great nominations, and are voted on by a great cast of people. (I'm also always interested in the Jogo do Ano, although I literally do not like a single game that has won).

I am less interested in the Spiel anymore, but I thought I would make my picks while I was at it.

Games I have not played are in italics. The nominees in each category are ranked by how much I like them (favorite on top).
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1. Board Game: Captain Silver [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:9226]
Ian Kissell
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Kinderspiel

Captain Silver accomplishes what most children's games fail at--actually being fun for adults. Granted, it is a simple game; however, I've watched a lot of adults play it and manage to have a good time. The one down side is more people seem to have trouble understanding how the rows fill up then I would think.

Who I think will win: Ice Cool

I really like Ice Cool, I just think Captain Silver is a better game.
 
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2. Board Game: Magic Maze [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:332]
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SdJ

Kingdomino is an okay game, but I don't really enjoy 15 minute games. Actually, I'll be a little sad if it does win, as it would seem to be continuing the trend of SdJ games getting lighter and lighter. I did not get a chance to play El Dorado, but from what I've seen (and from talking to people who played it), I think that it is a perfectly fine light deckbuilding race game, but not a classic.

Honestly, I'm not that enthused by this crop of games. Magic Maze is a nice idea, but it is very stressful. It is the type of game I would like to sit down and play a round or two of, but I wouldn't want to play much more then that.

Who I think will win: Kingdomino

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3. Board Game: Raiders of the North Sea [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:145] [Average Rating:7.82 Unranked]
Ian Kissell
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Kennerspiel

Ranking the Kennerspiel nominees and recommended games:

The Big Book of Madness < Captain Sonar < Great Western Trail << Exit the Game < The Grizzled < Terraforming Mars <<< Raiders of the North Sea

I've played one of the Exit scenarios. I had a good time, but to me, it is more like doing a puzzle book then playing a game. I am not as in love with TM as others seem to be, although a lot of my complaints are alleviated if you play four players.

Raiders is a great game, and my favorite light-medium worker placement games. It is a good mixture of tactical and strategic, and the entire production is stellar. I'm predicting an upset here over the Juggernaut of Terraforming Mars.

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4. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.38 Overall Rank:5]
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Best Game from a New Designer

Nominees:
• Terraforming Mars
• Vast-The Crystal Caverns
• Adrenaline
• Kingdom Death: Monster
• The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire

Terraforming Mars is a good game that needed some serious component upgrades. I like it at four players (as mentioned above), and that is about it. With three you have too many cards in play, and at five it takes too long. That being said, the card play is pretty good.

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5. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:7]
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Best Artwork

Nominees:
•Scythe
•Kanagawa
Islebound
•Arkham Horror: The Card Game
•Inis

The artwork on all of these is great, although Inis I find a bit hit and miss (especially the box cover). The artwork in Scythe in just fantastic, and does a lot for world creation.
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6. Board Game: Black Orchestra [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:919]
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Best Theming

Nominees:
• Black Orchestra
• Captain Sonar
• Terraforming Mars
• SeaFall
Roll Player

Black Orchestra wins this category by a mile. There is a fair amount of luck in the resolution, but it perfectly creates the feeling of trying to hatch an assasination plot.
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7. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.49 Overall Rank:6]
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Best Two Player Game

Nominees:
• Star Wars: Rebellion
• 13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis
• Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Codex: Card Time Strategy
Star Wars: Destiny

13 Days comes in a close second. While Rebellion can technically be played with four, it never should be.
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8. Board Game: 51st State: Master Set [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:254]
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Best Reprint

Nominees:
• 51st State: Master Set
• Robinson Crusoe
Mansions of Madness 2nd edition
Arkwright
Escape from Aliens in Outer Space

I haven't played a lot of games in this category, so I am going a lot on heresay. Fifty-first State definitely improves on Imperial Settlers and the 51st state system.
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9. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.11 Unranked]
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Best Expansion

• 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon
• Stockpile-Continuing Corruption
• Scythe-Invaders from Afar
• TIME Stories: Prophecy of Dragons
• TIME Stories: Under the Mask


Great list of expansions here. Continuing Corruption & Pantheon are definitely essential, but Pantheon elevates the gameplay of 7 Wonders a lot.
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10. Board Game: Happy Salmon [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:1018] [Average Rating:6.94 Unranked]
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Best Party Game

Nominees:
• Happy Salmon
• Junk Art
• Captain Sonar
• Secret Hitler
• Codenames: Pictures

I like Junk Art better, but it is not really a party game (nor are most on this list). Happy Salmon is by far the best party game nominated.
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11. Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:24]
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Best Cooperative Game

Nominees:
• Mechs vs. Minions
• Arkham Horror: The Card Game
• Mansions of Madness Second Edition
• PAndemic: Reign of Cthulhu (Iberia was WAY better)
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

MvM might have perfected the programming genre, and all of the chrome is not bad either (that insert is awesome).
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12. Board Game: Ice Cool [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:775] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
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Best Family Game

Nominees:
• Ice Cool
• Junk Art
• Karuba
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Sushi Go Party!

I like Junk Art better (again), but Ice Cool is the better family game. Karuba is also really good for a more strategic game, but it ran out of steam after a few games for me.
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13. Board Game: Scythe [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:7]
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Best Strategy Game

• Scythe
• Star Wars: Rebellion
• Terraforming Mars
• Great Western Trail
• A Feast for Odin

I'm not a huge fan of a Feast for Oden or A Great Western Trail. The other three are by far the best games of the year. More on this pick later.
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14. Board Game: Mechs vs. Minions [Average Rating:8.23 Overall Rank:24]
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Best Board Game Production

Nominees:
• Mechs vs. Minions
Conan
• Scythe
• Star Wars: Rebellion
The Others

Most of these games rely on miniatures for their production value. MvM is the complete package, beyond just the mechs.
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15. Board Game: Vast: The Crystal Caverns [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:480] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
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Most Innovative Game

Nominees:
• Vast: The Crystal Caverns
• Millennium Blades
• Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
• Captain Sonar
• Mystic Vale

I think Clank! and Millennium Blades are better games, but Vast definitely takes the cake on innovation. Like 504 last year, it is maybe too innovative for its own good--this game is really a bear to teach.
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16. Board Game: Arkwright [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:623]
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Best Game from a Small Publisher

Nominees:
Arkwright
• Roll Player

Not Alone
• Vast: The Crystal Caverns
• Cottage Garden

Weakest category. I have not played Arkwright, but from what I've seen of it, I think it is the strongest of this lot.
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17. Board Game: Star Wars: Rebellion [Average Rating:8.49 Overall Rank:6]
Ian Kissell
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Game of the Year


Here are the nominees ranked (best on the bottom):

A Feast for Oden
Inis
Adrenaline
Captain Sonar
Great Western Trail
Mechs Vs Minions
Cry Havoc
Terraforming Mars
Scythe
Star Wars: Rebellion

I really wish that Black Orchestra and Arkham Horror LCG were on this list. Personally, I don't think Adrenaline, Inis, and Captain Sonar should be anywhere near this list, and I personally don't like a Feast for Oden much at all.

One might wonder why I picked Star Wars: Rebellion for game of the year, while I chose Scythe over it for Best Strategy Game. These two by far were the stand out games of the year to me, and choosing between them is hard. While I think Scythe is slightly better as a strategy game, SW: Rebellion is a better experience. It perfectly captures Star Wars TOS in a game.

I think Terraforming Mars has more appeal though (being a great hybrid), and will probably win.
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